Fond farewells and excited arrivals mark midpoint of Lausanne 2020

LAUSANNE, Jan 16 – There were mixed emotions as the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games reached their midpoint on Thursday, with many athletes bidding farewell as others arrived.

With an innovative competition schedule based on two waves of sports, the stars of the first week are departing, while excitement builds for those athletes about to compete.

The two-wave system allows for more athletes than at previous Winter YOGs without stretching accommodation resources and costs.

“We would like to stay longer,” said Switzerland's Thomas Bussard, who along with his twin brother Robin (above) dominated the ski mountaineering medals. “Living together with all the athletes, the facilities, it was wonderful.

"I'm a bit sad it is now over. But we have memories we will never forget - winning medals, meeting new friends, meeting athletes from other sports."

"For our sport it was fantastic to be at the Games,” Robin said. “I think we [the sport/athletes] have performed so well that the impression we have made is very good. Maybe we will be at Cortina [2026 Winter Olympic Games] competing.

"Heartfelt thanks to the volunteers, too. They were always very good to us."

The engagement of local communities, especially children, and the continuing quality of competition is ensuring the success of the Games, according to senior organisers.

Christophe Dubi, Executive Director of the International Olympic Committee, and Lausanne 2020 President Virginie Faivre expressed admiration for how the host city and other venues, including St. Moritz and Les Tuffes in France, have united behind the athletes to create a special spirit of friendship and support.

Christophe Dubi speaks to the media on Thursday | © IOC / Christophe Moratal

Dubi, a native of Lausanne, said a feature of the Games has been the opportunities provided to schoolchildren and families to engage with the sports, an example he believes will inspire future YOG organisers.

“When you have all the local youth engaged, when they can try the sports, then it creates a true sense the Games are for everyone,” he said.

Faivre, a former world champion freestyle skier, said more than 170,000 spectators had already attended the competitions, most of them schoolchildren.

“We’ve seen venues full to the brim with crowds cheering in a very fair way for athletes,” she said. “We are very proud of what Lausanne 2020 has achieved so far.”

Faivre praised the agencies, including local government authorities, sporting federations, the IOC and sponsors, who are working together.

Efforts to encourage officials, athletes and spectators to use public transport have also meant Lausanne 2020 is proving environmentally sustainable.

The Games continue until January 22.

OIS tc/kc/sg

By Olympic Information Service

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